The most patriotic party of the year had nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. It was the 14th annual All Service Academies Ball held to honor the young midshipmen and cadets from the five service academies. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Air Force were all represented. Nearly 250 made their way to the Westin Convention Center ballroom Saturday night to recognize the 25 students and their parents.
"I honor the parents," said the evening's emcee, Bruce Bickle, a motivational speaker and founder of the Transformational Leadership Group. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1966. Mr. Bickle noted that it is the parents who are responsible for raising young men and women with the character and integrity to serve. One of those parents was the chair of the event, Gail Carl (with Dave). Their daughter, Samantha, is attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Founded in 1845, it is the second oldest of the country's military academies. The oldest is the U.S. Military Academy, founded at West Point in 1802. Seven Pittsburgh-area West Point cadets attended with their escorts. The Navy had eight midshipmen, the Coast Guard two cadets, the Merchant Marine four and the Air Force four. This year's host was the Naval Academy, and Rear Adm. Terry Benedict was the evening's guest speaker. After the midshipmen and cadets were introduced, 12-year-old C.J. Coyne sang "God Bless America." No stranger to the spotlight, he sang the national anthem in "The Dark Knight Rises." The honor guard for the event was the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Moon. Enlisted men and women joined the ranks of the cadets and midshipmen on the dance floor to the sounds of DJ Ryan Leech.